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Sacramento Man Chasing His Dream At The U.S. Senior Open

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Bob Niger is a traveling man -on the road 250 days a year. And when he's home he's playing a different golf course in the Sacramento area every day. This week, he could be found at Del Paso Country Club and here at Wildhorse Golf Club in Davis.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

The best senior golfers in the world qualified to play at this week's U.S. Senior Open in Sacramento. They include a 55-year-old man from El Dorado Hills who waited longer than most to follow his dreams. 

Bob Niger was 48 when he sold his business and dedicated himself to golf.

So far, he has not won enough money to have full-time playing privileges on the 50-and-older Champions Tour. 

He has about 18 chances a year to qualify for tournaments with open slots.

The Monday of each of those weeks is set aside for players to qualify.

"I turned pro in hopes of getting on the Champions Tour, so, I've been chasing that ever since," he says.

When asked if it was a big leap for him to take, he says, "It is a big leap. I haven't made it entirely, yet.  I mean I've Monday qualified into -- this will be my 17th champions tour event."

The competition is tough. Only the golfers with the five best scores in Monday qualifying rounds make the field each week.  He says the pressure only increases once he gets into a tournament.

"The key is to take advantage of your opportunities when you get in and I really haven't done that," he says. "You know, you get in and you want so badly to play well.  You don't know when you're getting in the next time. I just put a lot of pressure on myself to play well. So, that's the thing that I really have to learn to deal with being a part-time player out there."

He's had a Top 25 finish and averaged $10,000 a year in winnings for his career.

But, his annual costs are six times that.

"Tax ramifications haven't been anything I've had to worry about so far." he says.

When reminded of how low his tax bill is, he says, "I'd rather have to pay the government a whole bunch of money."

He has qualified for the U.S. Open three times.

He will have open fairways and pristine greens on Thursday.  His group is the first to tee off.

UPDATE: Niger shot six over par on day one -nine shots behind the early leaders.